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MACCRAY eyes $56.1M in improvements

Tom Cherveny / Tribune Bert Haglund, architect with TSP Architects, outlines the current facilities proposal for the MACCRAY Schools to district residents attending a meeting Monday evening at MACCRAY West in Maynard. 1 / 3
Tom Cherveny / Tribune Safety and education are the top priorities in the new facilities plan, MACCRAY Superintendent Sherri Broderius told community members Monday at MACCRAY West in Maynard. It was the first of three informational meetings. Another was held Tuesday in Raymond, and the third will be Thursday evening in Clara City.2 / 3
Tom Cherveny / Tribune Bert Haglund, architect with TSP Architects, outlines the current facilities proposal for the MACCRAY Schools to district residents attending a meeting Monday evening at MACCRAY West in Maynard. 3 / 3

MAYNARD — Plans are taking shape to upgrade the MACCRAY School District's facilities at all three campuses, while also expanding the high school campus with the addition of a middle school and 500-seat auditorium.

MACCRAY School Board members are introducing the latest plans and asking for public input during meetings being held this week. The project as now proposed is estimated to cost anywhere from $48.2 million to $56.1 million, depending on whether or not voters approve separate amendments to the plans.

"This is about kids and this is about moving forward,'' Superintendent Sherri Broderius said by way of introducing the plans during the first community meeting held Monday at the MACCRAY West Elementary in Maynard.

Safety and academics were the priorities in developing the plans, she told an audience of over 20 in Maynard.

"The basics are there. We've got what we need for kids,'' she said.

MACCRAY School Board member Julie Alsum said input from community members at meetings held about six weeks earlier helped board members develop the current plans. She said additional input is welcome.

Alsum said board members started with an initial wish list and "compacted it down to what we really felt was needed. We don't think there is a lot of fluff in here.''

The plans call for remodeling the MACCRAY West and East Elementary Schools in Maynard and Raymond into "sister schools," both housing classes from prekindergarten through fourth grade, according to Bert Haglund, architect with TSP Architects. The proposed remodeling would cost $4,840,000 at West and $5,450,000 at East.

The plans for East Elementary in Raymond include adding an elevator. The third floor would be maintained for future needs, but left empty. The East Elementary also has a higher cost due to plans to eliminate water in tunnels under the school.

As currently proposed, voters would have a choice of also approving an estimated $5.98 million to upgrade the heating and ventilation systems at both East and West to hot water heat with dehumidification systems. Otherwise, the existing steam boiler systems would be upgraded and maintained.

At both schools, new security entrances would replace the current front entrances. New bus loading areas would be removed from vehicular traffic.

The existing 79,225-square-foot high school facility in Clara City would see the addition of a 60,000-square-foot middle school for grades five through eight. The high school campus would also host a 500-seat auditorium, and the cafeteria would be expanded as a commons area. The auditorium and commons area would add 30,000 square feet, according to Haglund.

The plans also include expanding the agriculture shop area by 2,000 square feet. The high school track would be reconstructed.

The high school front entrance would be moved to the east side of the building, and it too would be a security entrance.

As now proposed, voters would separately decide a possible $2 million project to develop a three-court gymnasium instead of a two-court gymnasium being proposed for the middle school.

All together, the proposals for the Clara City campus would require an investment of $34,870,000, according to Mike Hubbard, project manager with ICS Consulting.

The tax impacts will depend on what voters decide. If all of the projects are approved, a $100,000 residential property would see an estimated tax increase of $214 per year. Agricultural homestead land valued at $7,000 an acre would pay an additional estimated $6.25 per acre, and non-homestead land of the same value would pay an additional estimated $12.50, according to Greg Crowe, of Ehlers and Associates.

Farmland property is eligible for a 40 percent tax credit, which means that the state of Minnesota would be paying nearly $16 million, or one-third of the overall project's costs for the district, he said.

Voters in the MACCRAY School District had previously rejected two facilities plans, a $38.8 million bond proposal in February 2017 and a $20 million proposal in January 2014. Both of those proposals were for a single-campus system in Clara City.

Board members are optimistic about the prospects of winning voter support for a three-campus system. Rick Groothuis, mayor of Maynard, told board members on Monday that keeping a footprint in each community "makes it a lot easier to vote for it.'' He also thanked board members for their efforts to keep the communication lines open with all of the communities in the district.

Superintendent Broderius said she is also hopeful of voter approval and noted the importance of having a unified board.

Board members hosted meetings on Monday and Tuesday in Maynard and Raymond and are hosting a third community input meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the high school in Clara City. They hope to put a final proposal to voters in November.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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